Back to the Future
We purchased Holystone Estate in 2010, having sold our successful turf business. As soon as we viewed the property, we realised it’s potential and knew it was exactly where we wanted to be. Even though it was clear that very little investment had been made for a number of years, the site itself was undeniably beautiful. Holystone’s landscape features gently rolling pastures, woodlands and of course the river Coquet. Nestled between the Simonside and Cheviot Hills, it really is picture-perfect.
We had spent the last 45 years growing our business, Turfland from humble beginnings to become the leading turf production company in Europe. We had seen how the instant lawn would complement the building boom of the mid-1960s. At that time, there was only old pasture turf available from farmers who were about to plough it in. The business took off like a rocket and soon it seemed every man and his dog was supplying turf. We knew we had to do something different to get ahead in what was being referred to as an itinerant business.
The first major steps we took were to treat weeds, add fertiliser and mow the grass. By doing this we were able to offer our customers a far superior product to our competitors and gain a reputation for quality. Before long, however, demand was outstripping supply and it was becoming difficult to find fields suitable for turf cutting. It would need a whole book to describe the events that followed from then on, so I will just highlight some of them.
We formed the U.K. Turf Producers Association. This was done to protect consumers and suppliers from the many itinerant traders at that time.
- We joined the American Sod Producers Association and travelled to America to research top quality turf being grown from newly developed turfgrass cultivars.
- We imported specialised turf production machinery from Canada and America and became UK dealers.
- We were instrumental in changing the law on turf production to have it reclassified as an agricultural activity.
- We were the first company to produce seed grown turf in the UK.
- We held regular seminars to educate other turf growers.
That is just a brief look into the past and hopefully gives an insight into our career before we came to Holystone Estate. As I mentioned earlier, the farm was in need of a considerable makeover. We have been involved with this for the past eight years and there is still more to do.
So far we have completed:
- Renovation of the lodge and cottages
- Construction of two large cattle sheds
- Construction new silage and feed sheds
- Renovation of old existing buildings
- Reconstruction and equipping of the sheep facility
- Renewal of tractors and other farming equipment
- Renewal of fencing and gates
Our ambition now is to continue investing to produce fine cattle and sheep and carry on with our environmental projects to satisfy our pursuit of excellence.
Chris & Janet Watmore